The Orion

Stop and smell the roses

Risa Johnson

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Photograph courtesy of Chico State Gary Shields, the lead groundsworker, trims the roses in the George Petersen Rose Garden in the spring of 1999.

Photograph courtesy of Chico State
Gary Shields, the lead groundsworker, trims the roses in the George Petersen Rose Garden in the spring of 1999.

Hundreds of students rush by on their way to class, but a only few stop to smell the roses.

The George Petersen Rose Garden is a beautiful historical highlight of campus and a popular spot for campus events such as Grillin’ on the Grass, Moon on Movie and the International Festival.

The man that tends to the Rose Garden, Gary Shields, has been a groundskeeper at Chico State for 32 years. He has been the lead groundskeeper since 2002, and is the main worker for the rose garden.

“Gary has taken a personal interest in and responsibility for the care and maintenance of the George Peterson Rose Garden,” said Michael Alonzo, supervisor of grounds and landscape services.

The George Petersen Rose Garden is full of history. It was named after John Bidwell’s gardener’s son and was planted in 1957.

Petersen wanted to garden beyond his backyard, so he proposed a rose garden for the campus, according to information in the university archives.

Today the garden is home to about 370 roses of more than 100 varieties, Alonzo said.

President Paul Zingg values the beauty of the garden and how it reflects the careful attention of many people throughout the decades.

“Its central location on the campus underscores how much we appreciate the beauty in nature,” he wrote in an email to The Orion. “It includes my favorite rose — a ‘Mr. Lincoln’ rose.”

This November, the university will trim back the roses, he said. They grow back in late January or early February.

The Orion asked Marlene Romero, the student co-director of the summer orientation program, to debunk some myths about the garden. Romero is a senior psychology major.

The Orion: Are there cameras in the three sister statues?

Romero: I don’t think there are actually cameras in there.

The Orion: Is there really a fine for stealing a rose?

Romero: As tempting as it may be, there is a fine for stealing from the rose garden — $50. I tell boys it’s cheaper to get roses from Safeway.

The Orion: If you ask a gardener, will they give you a rose?

Romero: If gardeners are there, you can have one.

 

Risa Johnson can be reached at [email protected] or @risapisa on Twitter.

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Stop and smell the roses